Sunday, December 30, 2012

Food, Folks, and Fun!

  Six months later, I'm ready to finish up this WAAAAAAAAY extended post on Costa Rica.  Not that I have much else to post about right now, but since the end of the year is nigh upon us, I'd like to finally tie up this loose end.  So, for those faithful few, here are some shots of the fantastic food we got to eat, the great people we met, and all the fun we had!
This is a semi-typical Costa Rican breakfast- the black beans and white rice, as well as the fresh fruit, is traditional for Costa Ricans; the scrambled eggs and mini muffins were a nod to those of us from the U.S
This was seriously one of my favorite lunches!  We ate this on our second day in the country, after our "failed" trip to try and see the Poas Volcano crater.  Again, note the black beans and white rice (staples of the Costa Rican diet)- unlike the breakfast mix, this one did NOT include cilantro, much to my delight!  There is also a sort-of "dry" cabbage slaw on the right, some barbecued pork below the rice, I think the yellow stuff on the left was a sweetish corn mash that was very tasty, and that brown ball-like blob on the top, fried plantain!  Fried plantain seemed to be a part of almost every meal, and I absolutely LOVED it! (I wish I knew their secret to making it taste SOOO good!)

And following that amazing lunch, we had this for dessert.  Sadly, I cannot currently find the paper on which I wrote the name of it, but it was some type of custard made from corn starch with the texture of gelatin.  I know, it sounds weird, and probably doesn't look that impressive, but it tasted delicious!

 Another delicious meal- note the ubiquitous black beans, white rice, and fried plantains.  This meal also included chicken (at the top center of the plate) and salad (on the right).  And do you see that light orange-ish dressing on the salad?  Without any chunks?  Yeah, that's right.  Costa Rica serves "Thousand Ocean" dressing!  I felt SOOOO vindicated to discover that!  (It's nice to know other cultures don't necessarily want gross pickle-type chunks in their dressing, either!)

 This was from one of our last dinners in Costa Rica (the last one for those who did not stay to do white water rafting).  Again, most of the food is much of the same, but still so tasty- especially those fried bites on the right- I think they were made from potatoes- it was hard to stop eating them!

This little bakery in San Jose had many delectable delights!  (I bought several different pastries and loved each and every one!)

 And I loved that this chocolate shop (located in La Fortuna) actually had a chocolate Arenal Volcano!

Of course, you can't go to a Hispanic country and NOT eat churros.  (Heck, I'll eat churros ANY time I can get them, but especially in a place like Costa Rica!)  I got these churros with a yummy caramel dip on the side!

Some street performers dressed as Elmo, Barney, and Cookie Monster- I thought it was a fun idea, until I found out you had to pay to get your picture taken with any of them.  (Thus, the aerial photo from my hotel window.)

On the left, school kids practicing traditional dances; on the right, professionals doing traditional dances.

Those same aforementioned school kids interacting with our group.  (I spy, with my little eye, a certain Spanish teacher we all know... :)

Artists at work:  a glassblower and a painter.
Live music at our hotel in Monteverde.
 This man taught some of us about what makes quality coffee, as well as how to properly drink it to get the full flavor (Steven and I abstained for obvious reasons).

I'm not sure who these two people are, but they seemed to keep following us around for some reason...

Here she is again... (This is as we were waiting to go zip-lining.  Steven did not join us for this adventure per his loathing of open heights.)
This was the AWESOME bus!  (Shampoo is the nickname for our guide; Cuchi is the nickname of our driver, who was amazing, by the way!)
All the people from our AWESOME bus!  (If you look carefully, you might find a few familiar faces!)

And finally, our fearless leaders!  On the left is me with "Shampoo" (aka Erick); on the right is me with the other tour guide, Gustavo.  Both were fantastic- it was so fun to get to know them!


Kids at play (this was at the school we visited).
Relaxing... (this was by the waterfall at La Fortuna).

And this is what happens when you stay in the hot hot springs for too long... (But it felt SOOO nice!)

Gustavo leading our Jungle Crocodile tour

Horseback riding through the mountains of Monteverde.

Erick trying to teach one of the students how to throw-spin a top in Sarchi.

Enjoying the beautiful beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park.


And finally, everyone getting down with the music!

Yes, folks, it was an amazing trip!  For those of you who have patiently followed this adventure through its many posts, I hope you have enjoyed reading/seeing it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it.

At the close of this year, I want to thank you for your comments and your friendly support.  I hope this year has treated you well.  I know I have had a good one, even amidst various struggles.  May the coming year continue to bless you with joy and success in all your worthwhile endeavors!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Well, I have survived the first few weeks of classes.  I'm excited about the classes I'm taking- so far, they are all relatively interesting and useful. I have classes on Monday night, Tuesday night, and Wednesday night; I'm hoping that this setup will help me develop a better pattern of study (i.e. less tendency to procrastinate).  I'll share more about my classes as the weeks wear on, but for now, another set of photos from Costa Rica!

We got to see a number of exotic animals on our trip, as well as some that may not seem as exotic, but are still interesting.  Sadly, I did not get a photo of the animal I was most excited to see- a toucan- because I didn't have my camera with me.  But I got lots of photos of other native animals, so enjoy the show!

The Birds:


The Bugs:

The Reptiles:

We saw three different types of iguanas- black iguanas (top), the typical green iguanas (center), and an orange-headed iguana (bottom).

Here is a basilisk- note how I am NOT making eye-contact with it! :)  Among other things, a basilisk can walk on water, which is a pretty cool thing to see!

Here's another cool lizard we saw while at the beach at Manuel Antonio National Park.

And on our Jungle Safari Tour, we got pretty up close and personal with crocodiles!  Take a look:

The Mammals:

Here's a cute cat that seemed to belong to one of the hotels we stayed at.  It was certainly a friendly kitty! :)
Here I am with the horse I rode- his name is Spirit ("Stallion of the Cimarron"), but he was actually a pretty lazy horse.  Despite my prodding and urging, I ended up near or at the back of the long line of riders within the first 15 minutes of the ride.  He also didn't like to get his hooves dirty, something that was pretty much inevitable considering that we were riding along mostly dirt trails on a very rainy day.  Still, I enjoyed the ride for the most part.

Believe it or not, white-tailed deer are actually an endangered species in Costa Rica.  For that reason, they have been declared the national animal of Costa Rica.  Though they are obviously common enough here in the States, it was still cool to see this fawn so CLOSE.  I guess they aren't as skittish in the tropics...

Here we have a sloth mama with her baby...

 And another sloth just enjoying his nap!

A white-faced monkey enjoying the spoils of his daring- (seriously, these guys were actually pretty aggressive!  They would go after any unguarded food- even if you glanced away for only a few seconds!)

And the rest...

Here is an itty-bitty sand crab hiding amongst the roots of the trees along the shore.

Here are some tiny mountain salamanders.
And a poison dart frog that our bus driver, Cuchi, managed to catch in his water bottle!

Well, folks, that's all for now, seeing as how I've already given you a pretty big eyeful, and I've got an early day at work tomorrow.  Until the next post...